Rab "Bob the Builder" Douglas Reflects on His Celtic Career.

Last updated : 06 January 2009 By Clydebuilt
Speak to any group of Celtic fans and mention the name Robert Douglas and you will undoubtedly get responses from people who truly believe that Big Rab cost us the League and the UEFA Cup Final in 2003. Others may be more sympathetic and offer pleas of clemency based on football being a team game and point to outstanding performances in a Celtic jersey, most notably in the Mestalla Stadium against Valencia in 2001 or his world class performance at Anfield in 2003. The truth of the matter however is that Douglas will be remembered more for his mistakes than his victories.

The first of those mistakes came in the treble winning season of 2000-01 at Ibrox where Celtic went full of confidence after winning the last fixture against their oldest rivals by 6 goals to 2. Celtic went in at half time feely smugly secure given that Henrik Larsson had just cancelled out Barry Ferguson's opening goal with what was Celtics only attack in the match and we had a right to feel confident of gaining at least a point.

However a second half horror show that saw us lose four goals all from crossed balls that should have been bread and butter to any goalkeeper saw the Celtic support lose all faith in the big keeper that had come from Dundee for the remarkably inflated fee of over a million pounds.

Fast forward two seasons to a 3-3 draw against Rangers at Celtic park in which Rab could be held accountable for all three Rangers goals, including a Mikel Arteta shot that ran through his hands and Rab's stock amongst the Celtic support would be at an all time low.

"After that one, I really thought I'd had enough. That was me... finished. But then I spoke to big Terry (Gennoe, Celtic's goalkeeping coach], Martin (O'Neill] and Debbie (his wife], who were all brilliant. If I'd given up, and stopped being paid to play football, I'd probably still have played it on a park somewhere. That's how much I love it. So why give someone the satisfaction?

Rab is sympathetic when he sees fellow goalkeepers make gaffes on the park: "I hate seeing any goalie make a mistake, even if the boy is keeping me out of the team. People won't believe that, but I've been in that position and it's horrible. Speak to any goalie who has made a mistake in a big game and they will tell you it is the loneliest time. But with the Old Firm, it is magnified. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Some of the stuff I had to put up with was unbelievable, getting analysed in the press by guys who didn't even know me. It was all wrong. Nobody makes mistakes deliberately.

Too true Robert. Ironically it was the player signed to replace Rab who had the football equivalent of a nervous breakdown after a poor performance in the Champions League against Bayern Munich.

"The one thing you can say about me is I am honest, but it hasn't always helped. At Celtic, there were times when I cost the team goals, and I was probably too honest in admitting it. There are guys who make mistakes and never admit to them. I held my hands up. Sometimes when nerves get to a guy, he doesn't play, he fakes an injury, but that's something you could never ever say about me. I always had the balls to stand up and be counted. I've never been one to hide."

I will never be everybody's cup of tea, but I can look back with huge pride on what I have achieved, not just for myself, but for my friends and family. Some guys play 10-15 years and don't win a thing. I played for Scotland. I won the Third Division, the First Division, a couple of SPLs, some Scottish Cups and played in the UEFA Cup final. For a daft goalie who came into the game late, it's not bad is it?"

You are right Rab, it is not too bad a record at all and I for one am in the" sympathise with Rab" camp as I believe that you win as a team and lose as a team. If you a goalkeeper is 100% focussed on events on the pitch and makes a few errors then that is just life. In many cases however the goalie should be expecting a little more cover from his team mates, cause if the shot is not allowed through then the keeper can't throw it into his own net!

Yours in Celtic